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Climate Crisis in Hawaii: Threats to Reefs, Ecosystems, and Economy

Datum

April 2023

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The climate in Hawaii is changing due to the increase in global temperatures caused by the release of greenhouse gases,
primarily carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere by human activities. The increase in temperature is leading to warming and
acidification of the oceans around Hawaii, which is damaging coral reefs and marine ecosystems. The increase in ocean
temperature is causing mass bleaching events and coral disease outbreaks. The increase in ocean acidity is damaging
corals, shellfish, and other organisms that rely on minerals in the water to build their skeletons and shells. The reduction in
freshwater availability due to decreased precipitation is harming delicate land-based ecosystems, often harming native
species. Ecosystems on land are also experiencing impacts from a warming climate, and many native plant species could
lose ground to invasive species better adapted to the changing climate or simply fail to thrive in altered habitats. Since
1960, sea level has risen between two and eight inches relative to Hawaii's shoreline, which is leading to accelerated
coastal erosion, wetland migration, and cliff collapse. These climate changes have the potential to harm natural and built
environments in Hawaii and negatively impact the state's economy.

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